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Taming the Desert: Resilience, Religion, and Ancestors in Ancient Peru

Taming the Desert: Resilience, Religion, and Ancestors in Ancient Peru

November 10, 2024—March 30, 2025

Taming the Desert features 34 Moche and Nazca ceramics and textiles drawn from the collections of LACMA and the Fowler Museum at UCLA. The works depict fantastic creatures, powerful ancestors, and mythological beings—illustrating how ancient Andean societies looked for spiritual meaning and numinous help in an unpredictable and challenging world. Religion and ritual provided the mechanisms for dealing with the harsh conditions of the Peruvian desert coast. Despite the region’s lack of resources, geographic isolation, and climatic vulnerability, the desert was a locus of early urbanism, dense settlements, extensive trade networks, large-scale irrigation and agriculture, and highly accomplished craft technologies. This exhibition offers a rare opportunity to glimpse two parallel pre-Hispanic modes of artistic expression in dialogue, and also reflect on contemporary crises of climate, scarcity, and human resilience.

Taming the Desert is presented by the Fowler Museum at UCLA, in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and curated by Luis Armando Muro Ynoñán, former Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and current Curator at the Field Museum of Chicago.

Image: Unidentified artist(s) (Early Nasca, south coast Peru), Effigy jar, 100 BCE–600 CE; ceramic; Fowler Museum at UCLA, X862883; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert L. Lucas, Jr.


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